BROCCOLI & broccolini
It’s one of the most misunderstood veges, but store and cook broccoli properly and you will find plenty to love. Here’s how to rock the broc.
Most people like carrots and beans, but mention broccoli and eyebrows often shoot up. What is it that turns people off broccoli? I think it’s the pong – that sulphury odour broccoli emits when it’s no longer fresh, or when it’s overcooked, kept covered after cooking, (Pawh! That’s a bad one), or slowly reheated.
Broccoli is chilled in icy water immediately after harvesting to lower its core temperature and prevent it wilting and discolouring. When buying broccoli it is your job to give it the same love; get it into the fridge as soon as possible, but be aware that it is ethylene-sensitive; this means other items in your fridge producing ethylene can affect its freshness, so best to cook it as soon as you can.
Lemon adds a nice note of brightness to unadorned green veg, but it interferes with the sharp green colour. Keep lemon for the table, rather than squirting it over cooked broccoli.
Reheating broccoli? It CAN be okay, as long as it wasn’t overcooked in the first place. But I can’t promise that little sulphury whiffs won’t escape here and there if cooking broccoli in a quiche, a pasta sauce, or riskier still, in soup. Broccoli soup can be dire. I don’t make it.
Poor broccoli, so much negativity dumped on it, when it’s one of the most spectacular vegetables. It’s not strongly flavoured, it doesn’t stick to your teeth like spinach, it brightens any dish, it’s easy to cook, has a nice crunch, and it happily goes with butter or oil, strong or melty cheeses, garlic, chillies and spices, bacon and pancetta, oyster sauce, sriracha sauce and soy. It can be boiled, steamed, pan-fried, stir-fried and roasted. And it’s cheap.
Broccoli and broccolini are nutrient-packed. Scientists have found the phytochemicals they contain can inhibit certain cancers, plus they’re a valuable source of calcium and vitamin C.
The leaves contain more beta-carotene than the florets, so try to include them in cooked dishes.
“Broccoli is one of the most spectacular vegetables”